Advice on an upgrade (R7800+RT-N66u)

I am looking for some advice on new hardware. I currently have:
-Netgear R7800 (Wifi5) acting as the router+ap (Just switched to Openwrt from stock)
-Asus RT-N66u (Wifi4) acting as a wired ap (FreshTomato)
-Internet speeds 950Mbps wired

Current observations:
-Wired speeds are good
-Wireless is OK as long as I am semi-close the the router (speeds 430-530 Mbps)
-Wireless coverage is OK across the whole house, but at the farther points my speeds can dip down to 80Mbps
-Stock firmware seems to offer better wireless speeds, but it has not been updated in 2 years and I worry about security vulnerabilities
-I have not optimized or done any tuning for Openwrt so I may be able to achieve better performance
-Of course the RT-N66u does not provide wireless speeds faster than 115Mbps (even at close range)

Things I would like:
-Modern/updated router firmware. I am new to Openwrt and lest say "more advanced" networking settings, but I can read and learn
-Second hardwired wireless ap (wire is already in place, POE is fine, I have a powered switch)
-I like the idea of a single SSID, mesh is fine, but I don't think I need more than 2 wireless APs
-Maybe Wifi6 or Wifi6E?
-I have been toying with the idea of using an old PC of mine as an Opensense router and adding APs...though I think it may be overkill

I have very briefly looked at Ubiquity, and TP-Link, but wonder if they are my best option? Can anyone help point me in a good direction? Should I just replace the Asus RT-N66u? Should I also consider using just 1 SSID (5g and 2.4) across multiple devices?

I appreciate the time anyone takes to read this, Thank you.

You haven't mentioned anything about budget ($$$) but as a first step you could get a gl-mt6000 to replace the aging n66u and set it up as gateway instead of r7800 and use that as a 2nd AP/ range extender.
Then you can start plying with single ssid and roaming.
If speeds are still not ok and you still have budget you could get a second mt6000to replace the r7800

Not only budget, where you are (the country) is important, wireless devices are bounded by local regulations so you shouldn't expect you can find the same device everywhere.

Thank you both for the fast replies and suggestions.

I have not heard of GL.iNET, but I can read up on them.

Budget wise I think I would like to keep things under $160? I say that because I am assuming that if I just buy a single Ubiquity AP that may suffice? However, I am not sure whether they are as good as some say. If $200 solved all my issues then I may just bite the bullet.

Though as you suggested, I could try just replacing the Asus AP first.

Any specific AP that works best with Openwrt?

I assume you are in US, currently Zyxel NWA50AX (PRO or non-PRO both OK) & Netgear WAX220 are in good price, these are great wall mount APs. Then get a Dynalink DL-WRX36 as main router (or GL-INET MT6000 but I don't know how much there) and hard wire them, mesh is not needed as you have cable as backhaul, only roaming is needed.

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Sorry I am located in the US.

Added info...with no adjustments Openwrt is definitely not providing equal reception and quality to the stock firmware on my R7800 (I just used the main release, nothing special).

I'll research those routers/APs as well.

Because Qualcomm chipset won't have 100% open source implementation like the Mediatek one, so it's expected that you can't get expected performance, the Dynalink is the same (but the SoC itself is pretty strong so it can use CPU resources to overcome most thing) and the Zyxel/Negear one I proposed are Mediatek based.

On a whim I flashed the R7800 Openwrt+NSS firmware and I can say that speedtest performed much better...almost same as stock. I have no idea what is in the NSS build, but I suppose that means I need to read and maybe could make the Openwrt stable achieve faster speeds with more configuration/tweaking.

-I like the different WebGui with the NSS build...I'll need to see what that is called...Luci?
-I am slightly concerned with builds made by individuals because I am not sure if there is an inherent risk or potential compromise with them.
-I also suspect that once the individual who maintains this build moves on, I will be in the same boat I was in...old firmware, old device. I guess that means I upgrade the router then...?

I am going to check out the Zyxel NWA50AX Pro first. If my R7800 continues to give me wireless speeds of ~550Mbps and handles all my garbage traffic, I don't think I can complain...all my wireless stuff is older anyway.

1 more additional question: How does the Unifi 6+ run with Openwrt? It looks like it has some support:

NSS is the proprietary hardware acceleration technology from Qualcomm, not in standard linux upstream (that's why official OpenWrt doesn't have it), so yes you will get performance boost by using it.

Even the official one has Luci, NSS is only a driver integration, it has nothing to do with the UI.

The Zyxel NWA50AX PRO should give you a surprise (but look at the flashing instruction carefully first to avoid bricking the device), I don't have this one, but my Netgear WAX206 is also an AP which supports 160MHz 802.11ax channel width, my laptop is semi-close to it and I am able to get > 1Gbps throughput on WiFi

Thanks! I have been obsessing far to much about this dilemma for the past day and bit the bullet on the Zyxel NWA50AX should arrive tomorrow. I get ~850Mbps with a wired connection at the moment, I think I pay for gigabit internet but if I could get that on wifi that would be very cool.

I almost bought a Unifi 6+, but it was more expensive and I think you need to use their software on a PC to set it up?

A few more questions, if anyone has any patience left for my newb brain:

  1. The R7800 has an option for 160 MHz, but Openwrt defaults to 80...should I enable 160?
  2. With the new AP and my old router, I will need to decide on how to setup the SSIDs. I am searching the forums but have not quite found this question yet: Should I use the same SSID for each wireless interface? (#1_12.4GHz, #1_5GHz, #2_12.4GHz, #2_5GHz)

Thank you again.

Unifi 6+ has OpenWrt support as well :slight_smile: hardware is almost identical to Zyxel NWA50AX PRO but flash storage is very small, can't install too many packages on it while Zyxel is possible.

In US the 160MHz might be difficult to be used on AC since it involves DFS, and most AC devices don't really have 160MHz, better continue to use 80MHz.

It's up to you, some people don't like band steering (which will switch between 2.4GHz/5GHz), but in case you have multiple access points to cover enough areas then you probably don't even need 2.4GHz (since it's mainly for long distance/obstacle penetration), and the separated 2.4GHz can be left for IoTs (most IoTs using 2.4GHz only)

Thanks for the advice. I received the Zyxel AP yesterday and flashed Openwrt onto it last night. Relatively painless process, so long as the directions on the wiki are followed.

Initial speeds put me at 250ish, up from 50-80.

I need to do some wifi analysis and likely adjust my channels/whatever else needs tuning...I live in a fairly congested area. This process will be a little new for me, but I found the free Ubiquity app for Android which seems helpful at first glance.

OpenWrt has the channel analysis menu item which might help you to check what's nearby so that you can configure channels accordingly.

Thanks, that does help. I tried changing it but I need to understand better about the restrictions. If I arbitrarily set the channel, it seems to disable the interface. I'll have to see what I am doing wrong.

When using > 20MHz channel width, by default OpenWrt doesn't seem to help to filter out those infeasible channels, for example if you use 160MHz and selecting ch. 48 would have problem, you can only select 36 from what I know, and also note about the DFS channels.

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